The FINANCIAL -- Before the terrorist attacks Tuesday that killed at least 30 in Brussels, 48% of Americans worried "a great deal" about the possibility of future terrorist attacks in the U.S. While this percentage is higher than in most years since 2004, a possible terrorist attack was not Americans' top concern. More Americans expressed "a great deal" or "a fair amount" of worry about domestic problems such as healthcare, the economy and crime than about terrorism among a list of 13 different issues.
Worries about terrorism generally take a back seat to at least a few domestic problems, but concerns about the issue increased in 2002 and 2003 after 9/11.
The latest attacks, which took place at an airport and metro station in Brussels, could affect Americans' level of concern about terrorism. In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, terrorism climbed to the top of Americans' list of the most important problems facing the U.S. in December. But by early March, mentions of terrorism declined significantly.
Before the attacks in Brussels, Americans already reported a heightened state of worry because of the increasing worldwide threat of terrorism, in particular from the Islamic State group, which has already claimed responsibility for Tuesday's attacks. Both last year and in Gallup's latest poll, conducted March 2-6, about half of Americans say they have "a great deal" of worry about another terrorist attack on U.S. soil, up from percentages mostly around or less than 40% in the previous 11 years.
Gallup's longer-term trend on terrorism concerns, first asked in 1995 and last updated in December, also found about half of Americans saying they are "very" or "somewhat" worried about personally becoming a victim of terrorism. And a January poll also found a decrease in Americans' satisfaction with the nation's security from terrorism.
Worries About Future Terrorist Attacks Higher Among Seniors, Republicans
Older Americans appear to worry more than younger Americans about potential terrorist attacks in the U.S. Less than half of Americans under the age of 50 say they worry "a great deal" about the issue. Meanwhile, about half of those between the ages of 50 and 64 (49%) and the majority of seniors aged 65 and older (58%) report worrying "a great deal."
Concern about possible terrorist attacks also differs by party. Republicans (64%) are much more likely than Democrats (36%) to say they worry "a great deal" about the possibility of future terrorist attacks in the U.S. About half of independents (48%) share this degree of worry on the issue.
Because Gallup has found an increase in Americans' worries about terrorism in the aftermath of past high-profile attacks, worry might increase after the attacks in Brussels, at least in the short term. Even before the latest attacks occurred, the level of concern was relatively high by post-9/11 standards. However, Americans are overall more likely to voice concern about pressing domestic matters such as the economy and healthcare.